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Chancellor search committee holds meeting with executive search firm

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UNC System President Peter Hans speaks to the Board of Governors during a full board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.

On Tuesday, the UNC Chancellor Search Advisory Committee held its first meeting with search advisory firm Parker Executive Search to discuss how the two groups will collaborate to select the University’s next leader.

Parker Executive Search specializes in search assignments for dean-level and above positions on university campuses, athletics departments, sports businesses and private companies.

Laurie Wilder, the firm’s president and co-owner, spoke on behalf of the firm at the meeting, emphasizing the belief in the importance of the search process and developing a pool of strong candidates.

“It’s a unique time in higher education with a lot of pieces of a puzzle, so I think it’s important for us to get a sense of who you [UNC] are today and where you want to be and where you want to continue to go,” Wilder said.

Wilder said the next step for the committee will be to finalize a leadership profile, which includes marketing the University to the public, determining the important chancellor characteristics to stakeholders and advertising the position.

The firm will use the profile along with stakeholder and committee input to recruit candidates and upload all candidate materials to a secure site that only committee members will have access to. According to the UNC System’s policy on chancellor searches and elections, the identities of all candidates are confidential to avoid discouraging possible applicants.

Cristy Page, chair of the search advisory committee, said in an interview with The Daily Tar Heel that she is excited to work with the firm because of its commitment to listening to stakeholders and their experience working with candidates who value the confidentiality aspect of the process.

“Their ability to represent us well, to navigate that — build trust with those really very high-talented people — is something we are really excited about,” Page said.

Using the candidate materials provided by the firm, the committee will conduct initial screenings and select candidates for the second round of interviews. From there, committee members recommend three candidates to the UNC Board of Trustees which then makes a recommendation to UNC System President Peter Hans, who nominates a finalist to the UNC Board of Governors, Wilder said.

Wilder urged the committee to be active participants in the search process, to take on an advisory role and make recommendations to the BOT, and to keep an open mind when evaluating all candidates.

Some committee members questioned the efficiency of the search process timeline. Wilder said the remainder of the open forums, the profile development and the recruitment process will take more time. But starting in the fall, the process will likely be expedited to select a candidate as quickly as possible.

March For Our Lives UNC Co-president and organizer with the Southern Student Action Coalition Alexander Denza said he thinks any attempt to speed up the chancellor search process stems from ulterior motives because the chancellor search process is already quick – with a chancellor tentatively chosen within the year.

The search committee will hold an open forum for faculty to voice input in the search process on April 29 during the next Faculty Executive Committee meeting.

The committee, with guidance from the firm, plans to hold more stakeholder sessions in the fall.

Page said she will be present at the FEC meeting, and that the committee members have been rotating to ensure there is representation at each stakeholder session.

“We will work together every step of the way,” Page said. “The committee members are all here because we are serving the University and [are] charged to find really strong candidates to pass forward in the process.”

Although the committee has emphasized student engagement in the process, Denza said he did not think it was accessible. 

The first undergraduate student listening forum was held on April 1 at 2 p.m., during which many students had classes, and was only attended by two committee members: Student Body President Christopher Everett and alumnus Jim Phillips Jr.

Several student-led organizations on campus will be hosting a public forum on April 24 for students to provide further feedback on the search process. On Thursday, the organizations are delivering an open letter to the BOT, BOG and the committee demanding their presence at the forum.

“We are providing them the opportunity to and as the constituents of this University, we expect their presence if they say that they actually want to engage students,” Denza said.


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